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Friday November 15th 2019

Carnal Knowledge | 1971

Carnal Knowledge filming location: Shannon Mews, Granville Street, South Vancouver
Carnal Knowledge location: the Ivy League college: Shannon Mews, Granville Street, South Vancouver | Photograph: Justin Norris

With a wickedly acerbic script from cartoonist-playwright Jules Feiffer, razor-sharp direction by Mike Nichols, sparkling photography by Giuseppe Rotunno, all served by top-notch performances from a small cast (there are only seven speaking roles), this was a landmark film.

Largely set in ‘New York’, the production was based at the old Panorama Film Studios (also known as Hollyburn Studios), which used to stand on Folkestone Way in West Vancouver, British Columbia. The studio has long since been demolished.

The campus of the Ivy League college, where wolfish Jonathan (Jack Nicholson) and sensitive Sandy (Art Garfunkel) share a room, was provided by Shannon Mews, an estate on the northwest corner of Granville Street and West 57th Avenue, Vancouver.

The mansion and grounds, built for Benjamin Rogers, founder of British Columbia Sugar, have been seen in several films including Watchmen and I, Robot, with Will Smith.

The estate has since been developed into condominiums – the Shannon Wall Centre, 7201 Granville Street.

Most of the film is shot in tight close-up or in two-shots so there’s little demand for too many real locations; there is a little real New York, though.

The skating rink, where a lone white-clad skater signals the passing of time and Sandy and Jonathan meet up to mull over their lives, is Central Park’s Wollman Skating Rink, 59th Street at 6th Avenue, also featured in Love Story and 2011's Limitless.

After Jonathan’s cruel Ballbusters on Parade slideshow of girlfriends past, he walks with Sandy up Park Avenue past 52nd Street and the two compare their very different, but equally depressing, lives.